Welcome to another edition of Wings Weekly, a weekly review of the 2017-18 Detroit Red Wings season. Due to the bye week, I’m writing this a day late so as to incorporate an extra game. With games against the Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins bookending their bye week, it was not an easy week of games for the Wings. They concluded with back-to-back matinees against the Penguins and the Chicago Blackhawks. Overall, this week could have been better.
The Wings hosted the Lightning in the final game before their bye week. The Wings were riding high on a four game winning streak going into the game and the Lightning easily put a damper on that with a 5-2 victory. The game intensified the bubbling rivalry between the two games as Dylan Larkin dropped the gloves with Brayden Point and Tomas Tatar fought Yanni Gourde. There was a scary moment during this game that brought both teams together when Dan Girardi went down to block a Martin Frk slap shot and got it in the back of the neck. Girardi was escorted off the ice, but thankfully no long-term damage was done. Detroit got goals from Gustav Nyquist and Justin Abdelkader, but it wasn’t enough to slow down the first place Lightning.
In their five days off, most of the Wings went South to enjoy time with their families. Many players posted photos to their Instagram accounts of Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and more tropical locations south of the border.
Their off week was perhaps too relaxing as the team came back to a lackluster performance against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday afternoon. The Wings were out played as the Penguins recorded 36 shots on Jimmy Howard, four of which ended up in behind Jimmy Howard. The Pens had a strong showing from their big guns, as Malkin, Kessel, and Crosby were the goal scorers. The big miss from Detroit in this game was going 0-for-7 on the powerplay.
On Sunday afternoon, already warmed-up from the day before, the Wings got off to a quick start in Chicago, going up two goals in the opening six minutes. They were without Abdelkader and Darren Helm, who were injured in Saturday’s game. So Dominic Turgeon joined the team from Grand Rapids, playing 9:01 of ice time. The team added two more in the third period for a 4-0 victory over their former rivals. Tyler Bertuzzi scored his first career NHL goal and Petr Mrazek recorded his second shutout of the season as he turned away 27 Blackhawks shots.
The Regular Stats
This was a big week for Tyler Bertuzzi who leads the team in points over the last seven days. This is the first week that Bertuzzi has held this spot and includes his first NHL goal. Anthony Mantha also had a big week with a goal and an assist against the Blackhawks. The young winger had a tough second quarter to the season. This could be the bounceback that he needed. The Wings also continued to get contributions from Zetterberg, Nyquist, and Abdelkader, three veterans who they need offense from. Tomas Tatar is still absent from this list.
Dylan Larkin continues to lead the team in points, but Zetterberg has seen a huge surge in point production. Since December 1st, Z has 16 points in 17 games, which is team-leading. We saw this same kind of production from Zetterberg last season, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see him surpass Larkin in the coming weeks.
Nyquist is still on pace to put up over 40 points and Abdelkader has surpassed his goal total and tied his point total from last year.
The Fancy Stats
Despite their 5-2 loss to the Lightning, Detroit actually had a good possession game, with a Corsi-For percentage above 50%. In the other two games, it plummeted back down to 42.05% and 39.36% respectively. It’s frustrating that every week there is at least one game where their 5v5 on-ice CF% is below 40%. It’s not sustainable and they have to be better at playing the process if they want to win games.
The most glaring change to this chart is that Andreas Athanasiou has found himself back at the bottom. Since he’s played with Dylan Larkin, AA has been one of Detroit’s best players, both on the scoreboard and the underlying stats sheet. I’m not sure what happened here (I couldn’t watch any of this week’s games), but it’s not good for the speedy winger. Hopefully he’s not regressing back to his earlier season play.
There hasn’t been a huge swing in the standings since last week because most teams have been taking their bye weeks. The Wings are only ten points out of the third place divisional spot and have two games in hand. Can they steal it? Probably not. I think it’s time to start looking at the Wild Card spot as the Wings are only seven points out of that one, but have four teams to leapfrog to get there, including the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers. Sure, it’s possible, but it’s certainly not probable.
THE WINGS NATION PLAYER OF THE WEEK
I could have gone Petr Mrazek for his 27 save shutout. I could have gone Dominic Turgeon for his first NHL game. I could have gone Zetterberg for his three points in three games. But Tyler Bertuzzi really deserved it this week. Three points in three games, one of them being his first NHL goal, Bertuzzi had a monster week. He’s been solid since his call-up, playing fast and playing hard, earning a spot on the team’s top line. He deserved this goal. Hopefully this is the first of many.
The bye week is an odd thing for players in the middle of the season. While it can be nice to rest your body and your mind, it can completely pull you out of the game, catching you off guard when the games resume. Detroit had a bit of momentum going into the bye week, having gone 4-1 in their last five games, and returned completely flat-footed. They seem to have re-found that momentum against the Blackhawks and with some good teams rolling into town this week, we’ll see if they are ready to make this very difficult and improbable playoff push.
The Wings are back home for the remainder of the week with two games on the schedule. Hopefully they can build on the momentum they created against Chicago because the next two games are not going to be easy ones.
Tuesday, January 16 – vs. Dallas Stars, 7:30 P.M. ET
Saturday, January 20 – vs. Carolina Hurricanes, 7:00 P.M. ET